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selling during lean times ( long )

updated sun 18 aug 02


Chris Campbell on sat 17 aug 02

This is a copy of an e-mail I received on selling during these lean days.
It is long, but I thought worthwhile. Print it out and pass it on......

It would be stupid to stick our heads in the sand and try to act like art
sales are not at an all time low in the country. We have had pockets of the
doldrums in the past but now the entire country is experiencing no wind in
their sails.

I hear of art sales being off as much as 75% all across this great nation.
Not since the great depression has our industry been hit with so much
negative information. Yet, I am here to tell you the sky is not about to
fall. There is still plenty of money...folk's farms have not blown
away...we are not in the middle of Grapes of Wrath. There is a light at the
end of the tunnel and that light is your improving your sales skills. You've
got to get better and work smarter because if you don't you will fail and
that is a fact.

Just remember art is sold...folks just don't walk in and take it off the
shelves. We are not living in a time when folks just take a number and wait
for you to write up the order.

Yesterday a friend reminded me of a story I heard when I was a young whipper
snapper. The story of the Paper Tiger. Paper tigers have a frightening
appearance and can bring panic in the hearts of all who encounter them. The
reality of a paper tiger is when you penetrate the exterior, hot air starts
to spew out and soon it collapses into a big wad of pulp. Overcoming
objections is like puncturing a paper tiger. Before you can slay the paper
tiger you must first learn to recognize one when you see it.

Paper Tiger #1.
People are walking around like zombies. Why should that surprise you? Just
look at all the negative crap on the television, in the newspapers and by
word of mouth. 9-11 is looming on the horizon and it is a frightening
reminder of just how vulnerable our lives and economy are. The stock market
is playing like a yo-yo on the end of an assembly program performer. Rather
than trying to act like there is nothing wrong, confront the problem in your
sales presentation. "Boy, our papers are full of doom and gloom. Makes a
person want to cow in a corner and hoard instead of living to the fullest."
Bring the paper tiger out into the open and expose the fears. In your casual
warming up phase mention the negative news and then give your customer some
illustrations on how a recent buyer said they were not going to let the news
media and scare tactics rob them of the joy and happiness they deserve. In
other words admit to the real fears they have and then let they see it is
just a paper tiger, if they let it keep them from enjoying life they are
being robbed. Attack the objection before it arises because it is in the
minds of those you are talking with. They look like zombies because the
negative news has them paralyzed. It is your duty to GIVE THEM PERMISSION to
enjoy the day...enjoy right now. You do this by confronting those fears
before you ask for the sale. Use illustrations to eliminate their deep
seeded concerns. Each of you will need to make "the permission to buy" in
your own language. You will be amazed at how their attitudes will change
once you give them permission to be happy and buy what they want.

Paper Tiger #2.
Ask for the order. 55% of all salespersons never ask for the order.
They think the paper tiger is not a prospect because they are listening to
the excuses being spouted from the lips of the customer. Visualize every
customer as it you thought they were Bill Gates. Don't assume they don't
have the money or that they won't purchase...Ask for the order. Keep asking
for the order.

Paper Tiger #3.
Getting caught selling. The moment you are caught selling you may as well
wish them well and move on to the next customer. I learned as a young man to
sell the same way whether I was flush or dead broke. I never let them see
the green in my eyes. Customers can sense when we are needing to make a
sale, you know when we need the money. I suspect this is one of the reasons
some of you are missing sales. You have been caught selling because you need
$$$. The tighter things get the harder you are pushing. Remember part of
selling is taking things away. None of us like to have things taken away.
When a girl pulls back the man chases harder even if he really does not like
her all that much. Women are much smarter than us men. They instinctively
know when to pull back and let us chase until we catch them. Pull back on
your closing...take it away. Never get caught selling. Like a dog they can
smell the fear in your voice. You have big rents and bills to pay...unless
you are aware of your pressing you might be doing much harm to closing sales.

Paper Tiger #4
Follow up. No telling how many sales you miss by not following up. We get
emails all the time with requests. "We have a couple who want..." you fill
in the blanks. Do you have a file on these folks? Not just our work but any
artist. If not, then you are missing sales. Successful artists follow up.
They pop the paper tiger by keeping on top of customer's needs.Do not let
them vanish into thin air. Think how many sales you have missed because you
have not kept good records and followed up. The many customers who were on
the verge...they go home and you email them. Forget emails. Use the
telephone. Emails are a lazy way and bring fewer sales. Get on the phone
today and use it from now on instead of what is easy. They need the
reassurance your warm and positive voice brings. Your words have emotion and
can calm their fears. You can give them permission to own some joy.

Paper Tiger #5
Home shows. Sure it is a lot of work...I guess the question is do you want
to keep your doors open or get in line for a job at Wal*Mart where it is
safe? When is the last time you delivered a piece of art to a potential
customer's home-office and made a sales presentation? Case closed. So if
you end up going broke and being forced to close your doors...don't blame
me...blame your lack of effort. It's not the economy but your not doing what
it takes. Home shows are the surest way to close a sale. Of course not all
customers are close enough. Would I drive a 100 miles to make a $2000 sale?
Is a humming bird fast? You bet your boots (your best boots) I would.

I am not going to try and paint a word picture of all the paper tigers you
might run into. I just want you to know once you pop the paper he will fold
up. Figure out what your paper tiger is and start today to overcome. Be one
of those still standing when it's all said and done. Galleries and artists
will survive...we who do will become stronger and soar when the good times
return...and the good times will return.

You can expect some challenging days until after this Sept 11th...and
possibly until the end of the year. It is imperative you stay positive and
not be distracted...stay the course and we will get some wind in our sails.
These doldrums will not last forever.
Via .......
Chris Campbell Pottery, LLC
9417 Koupela Drive
Raleigh NC 27615-2233
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